Wednesday, July 31, 2019

PREVIEW: Dirt trackers and road ringers rise again at Eldora and Watkins Glen

PHOTO: Mike Rector, @Iaracefan
Thursday, August 1, 2019
TRUCKS Race 15 of 23
Eldora Dirt Derby at Eldora
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Norm Benning

There are 32 drivers entered for as many spots, but for the season’s lone dirt track race, these aren’t the same 32 drivers and teams from last Saturday at Pocono.

MISSING: #0-Jennifer Jo Cobb
The second Cobb truck is not entered this week, days after Daniel Sasnett finished 29th at Pocono.

DRIVER CHANGE: #3-Jordan Anderson Racing
One week after tying his season-best 13th-place finish at Pocono, Jordan Anderson will not be behind the wheel of his own #3 Chevrolet for the first time in 2019. In his place will be the first of many new faces in the race, 16-year-old Carson Hocevar. The Michigan-born late model racer has already turned heads in the ARCA Menards Series, where he has six Top Fives in just eleven series starts for Mike Bursley. Scott’s, GM Parts Now, and Precision Fleet Image are among the team’s sponsors on a slightly new look to the white Chevrolet.

Joe Nemechek has a ringer of his own as Colt Gilliam, a Super Stock competitor at the Carolina Speedway in Gastonia, North Carolina, will take the controls of the fleet NEMCO #8 Chevrolet that Tony Mrakovich steered to a strong 12th-place run in Pocono. Several sponsors have followed Gilliam to NASCAR, including Business Machines Company and Hoopaugh Grading.

MISSING: #15-DGR-Crosley
Anthony Alfredo will not run this Thursday’s race as the Crosley team has not fielded the #15, one week after his 31st-place finish following his Lap 1 tangle with Stewart Friesen.

DRIVER CHANGE: #20-Young’s Motorsports
Spencer Boyd was originally entered to continue his full-season effort in Eldora, but on Tuesday came word he’d injured his back in a non-racing related accident. Driving in relief this week is Landon Huffman, who we haven’t seen in the series since last fall at Phoenix, when he steered Al Niece’s #38 to a 25th-place finish.

RETURNING: #27-ThorSport Racing
Fresh off his win in last Saturday’s XFINITY race at Iowa, Chase Briscoe sets his sights on a second-straight win at Eldora following a thriller last summer. Then as now, he drives the returning ThorSport #27 team, and this time has sponsorship from DiaEdge.

MISSING: #28-FDNY Racing
Bryan Dauzat and the Jim Rosenblum team are not entered in this week’s race after they recovered from an early crash to finish 24th at Pocono.

DRIVER SWAP: #32-Reaume Brothers Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #34-Reaume Brothers Racing
Mason Massey finished 17th last week at Pocono and will again run for Josh Reaume under the lights at Eldora. This week, he moves from the #34 to the #32, leaving the other two Reaume trucks open for two more dirt trackers. Taking over Massey’s #34 is Devin Dodson, a 20-year-old racer from Maryland who competes in both Dirt Modifieds and a combined six starts in ARCA and K&N Pro Series competition. His best of these runs was a 6th-place showing in an East race at Tucson just last year. The #33 goes to fellow Dirt Modified racer Mike Marlar from Tennessee, who earlier this month scored his sixth DIRTcar Summer Nationals victory in a door-to-door battle with Brian Shirley.

DRIVER CHANGE: #38-Niece Motorsports
Last week, Al Niece entered this truck at the last minute to guarantee a 32-truck field, and T.J. Bell steered it to a 26th-place finish before handling issues. This week, the truck is again entered, and will also be a joint effort with Jordan Anderson Racing (along with Anderson’s own #3). Driving this week will be Mark Smith, the 2014 and 2016 360 sprint car champion and a winner in four different open wheel divisions at the Selinsgrove Speedway in his native Pennsylvania. It will be Smith’s NASCAR national touring series debut.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Niece Motorsports
Jeffrey Abbey seeks his third-straight start in the Eldora Dirt Derby after finishing 14th for Al Niece in 2017, then 17th for the Reaume Brothers just last year. In that time, Abbey has since made a pavement start in the Truck Series, finishing 22nd at Martinsville. He takes the place of Bayley Currey, who ran 23rd in Pocono.

PAINT SCHEME: #45-Niece Motorsports
After weeks of running plain white trucks, last week’s Pocono winner Ross Chastain carries a throwback scheme this Thursday, resembling the #21 J.W. Hunt Produce modified raced by Jack Hewitt. Interestingly, this will also be Chastain’s first-ever start in the Eldora Dirt Derby.

MISSING: #49-CMI Motorsports
Ray Ciccarelli and his owner-driver operation are not among the entrants at Eldora following a 19th-place showing in Pocono.

It was Kyle Strickler, “The High Side Tickler,” who last year became the final driver to run Mike Mittler’s #63 Chevrolet at Eldora, finishing 31st after a late-race accident. In the years prior, Bobby Pierce had come closer than perhaps any other driver had to putting MB Motorsports into victory lane. Pierce was not among this year’s entrants, and cited Mittler’s passing as the reason. Strickler, however, will be running this week, taking the place of a struggling Natalie Decker in the #54 Toyota. It marks the first race without Decker in the field since Texas in March, where Anthony Alfredo finished 28th after a crash.

RETURNING: #74-Lou Goss Racing
A surprising return to the entry list is the former Mike Harmon truck now owned by Lou Goss, who made his series debut at Gateway in June. Goss has put behind the wheel Darwin Peters, Jr., who worked with Harmon as crew chief at TJL Motorsports at Atlanta in 2017. It will be Peters’ first series start as a driver. Alan Collins, Jr. will take over as his crew chief, replacing Tim Goulet, who presided over the Goss effort in Gateway.

RETURNING: #80-Jacob Wallace Racing
Justin Shipley eyes his fourth consecutive start in the Eldora Dirt Derby, and his fourth in a row with Tracy Wallace’s #80 Ford. His best finish in those three starts was a 25th two years ago, carrying the same sponsorship from Roger’s that joins them this week. We’d seen this #80 team twice before this year, when B.J. McLeod failed to qualify at Atlanta, and when the team withdrew at Martinsville without a listed driver.

MISSING: #87-NEMCO Motorsports
Joe Nemechek will not be driving in Thursday’s race and will instead focus on Colt Gilliam’s effort in his primary #8 Chevrolet.

RETURNING: #03-Mike Affarano Motorsports
One year after John Provenzano failed to qualify for this race, and five years after team owner Mike Affarano finished last in it, the #03 team is back in action with another driver behind the wheel. Jake Griffin finished 4th in this race in 2016 for Red Horse Racing, and will make his first start in this race since. Sponsorship comes from the Clayne Crawford Foundation.

NEW TEAM: #08-Kart Idaho
Eldora will also see the debut of a new Truck Series team. Driving for the new Kart Idaho team is IMCA Dirt Modified driver Tim Ward, who finished 14th in the K&N Pro Series West race on the Las Vegas dirt track just last year. His black #08 Chevrolet will carry sponsorship from Country AF Radio. The team shook down the truck at the SportsPark Raceway in Iowa on Monday.


Saturday, August 3, 2019
XFINITY Race 20 of 33
Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Tommy Joe Martins

There are 37 drivers entered for 38 spots, threatening the sixth short field of the 2019 season and first since Talladega in April. Barring any late entries, this will be the fewest starters in the XFINITY race at The Glen since June 30, 1996, when Randy Porter finished last in another 37-car field.

DRIVER CHANGE: #4-JD Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #01-JD Motorsports
Stephen Leicht, 16th in Iowa, moves from Johnny Davis’ #4 back to the #01, taking the place of 25th-place finisher Ryan Repko, who isn’t entered. The move opens the #4 for a returning Ross Chastain, who after running Thursday’s dirt race in Eldora will make his first start for JD Motorsports since June at Michigan.

DRIVER CHANGE: #5-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Scott Heckert seeks his first XFINITY start of the season, and his first in the series since a 29th-place showing last summer at Road America. He takes the place of Matt Mills, who not only finished 18th in Iowa but had run every race this season in the #5 with only two DNFs. Mills’ streak looks to end Saturday as he is not entered for the first time in 2019.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-JR Motorsports
First of the Cup drivers to pull double duty is Ryan Preece, who takes over for Iowa’s 9th-place finisher Zane Smith in the #8 Chevrolet. Louisiana Hot Sauce, a brand most often identified with Myatt Snider in the Truck Series, will sponsor the Preece effort.

RETURNING: #10-Kaulig Racing
A.J. Allmendinger rejoins the XFINITY tour for the first time since his disqualification last month in Daytona. This time, the 2014 winner of the Cup race here will be sponsored by Death Wish Coffee, a brand which backed Daniel Hemric in this race two years ago.

RETURNING: #12-Penske Racing
Ryan Blaney attempts the double, bringing Roger Penske’s #12 team back to the XFINITY circuit for the first time since Loudon. It promises to be Blaney’s first XFINITY start of the year, following a four-race campaign in 2018 where he never finished out of the Top Five and won at Texas. Pirtek sponsors the car.

DRIVER SWAP: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER CHANGE: #42-Motorsports Business Management
Chad Finchum gets moved from his more familiar #42 to the #13, taking the place of Timmy Hill, who isn’t entered this week. The move allows Stanton Barrett to attempt his first XFINITY Series start since the 2016 race at Road America, where he ran 27th for B.J. McLeod. Barrett has since made a pair of Cup starts, finishing last on the Roval last year, then 35th this season at Talladega.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-JD Motorsports
Speaking of B.J. McLeod, he is back in Johnny Davis’ #15, taking over for Ryan Vargas, who ran a solid 17th in his series debut at Iowa.

MISSING: #17-Rick Ware Racing
Rick Ware has elected not to enter his #17 this week, just days after Mark Meunier’s wreck in qualifying caused him to be the only DNQ in Iowa.

DRIVER CHANGE: #18-Joe Gibbs Racing
Kyle Busch will make his fifth XFINITY start of 2019 and first since his victory in Texas back in April. Taking over for Riley Herbst, 13th in Iowa, Busch will be sponsored by iK9, a company noticeably absent from the circuit since XCI Racing withdrew Jeffrey Earnhardt’s car at Daytona last month.

MISSING: #28-H2 Motorsports
Shane Lee turned heads with a team-best 7th last Saturday in the H2 team’s return to the track where they made their debut in June. However, driver and team aren’t entered this week.

DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Watkins Glen sees Tommy Joe Martins make his first start with Carl Long’s MBM effort, taking the place of Iowa’s 23rd-place finisher Stan Mullis. Diamond Gusset Jeans follows as sponsor on a brilliant silver-colored Toyota Supra. Martins looks for improvement after an early brake failure left him last in this race last year.

MISSING: #68-Brandonbilt Motorsports
The BMS team has elected not to bring their second car to The Glen, one week after Will Rodgers’ debut at Iowa was saddled with mechanical issues, leaving him 28th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
Mike Harmon finished 34th last week in Iowa, but no driver was yet listed to take the wheel of the #74 at Watkins Glen. UPDATE: Dan Corcoran of Ontario will make his first NASCAR start of any series this weekend, and guaranteed a starting spot with the 38-car entry list.

MISSING: #89-Shepherd Racing Ventures
One year after withdrawing from this race, Morgan Shepherd has not entered his #89 in Saturday’s race. Shepherd finished 36th last week in Iowa.

The #90 car got some screen time late last Saturday when Dillon Bassett collided with a street sweeper during a late round of pit stops at Iowa, leaving him 26th. Taking the wheel this week is a returning Alex Labbe, who we last saw in action at Loudon with a 22nd-place finish.

Josh Bilicki reunites with the Rod Sieg team this week, taking the place of Camden Murphy, 24th in a white Chevrolet at Iowa. Bilicki last drove for RSS at Kentucky for a 32nd-place finish, then failed to qualify at Loudon. The Glen also saw him make his lone Cup start last year, finishing 36th for Rick Ware Racing with an electrical issue.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Cody Ware returns to action in NASCAR’s top three series for the first time since he suffered carbon monoxide poisoning in the Cup race at Sonoma. He takes the place of Iowa’s 22nd-place finisher Stefan Parsons, who drove in relief of Ware at Daytona in his series debut.

CUP INVADERS: #8-Ryan Preece, #12-Ryan Blaney, #18-Kyle Busch

Sunday, August 4, 2019
CUP Race 22 of 36
Go Bowling at the Glen at Watkins Glen
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Joey Logano

For the third straight year, there are only 37 entrants in the Cup race at Watkins Glen. It will also be the 17th short field in 22 races this season and the fourth in a row.

DRIVER SWAP: #15-Premium Motorsports
MISSING: #27-Premium Motorsports
DRIVER SWAP: #77-Spire Motorsports
As Jay Robinson leaves his “open” #27 team at the shop, Reed Sorenson moves from that car to the Spire Motorsports #77, originally bumping Quin Houff to Robinson’s #15 in place of Ross Chastain. Chastain was then re-added by Tuesday in Houff's place, averting the first Cup race without Chastain in the field since Michigan in June.

Corey LaJoie has forgone one month's pay to get his favorite charity, Samaritan's Feet, on the hood of his Ford this Sunday. The charity's objective is to provide shoes to impoverished children.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
Rick Ware did not have a driver on the preliminary entry list to run in place of 33rd-place Pocono finisher B.J. McLeod. The driver is to be announced, though Cody Ware indicated he would run one of the two cars on Sunday. By Tuesday, it was Ware listed in the #51, making his return to Cup for the first time since Sonoma.

DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Rick Ware Racing
Last Sunday, Austin Theriault finished his second-straight Cup race in 34th spot, but no driver was on the preliminary entry list for the #52 car. Josh Bilicki was then named by Tuesday, his second-straight start in the Cup race at Watkins Glen. Bilicki finished next-to-last in 2018 after his engine soured late due to an electrical issue.

MISSING: #53-Rick Ware Racing
The Ware team has not entered the #53 car this week, which Josh Bilicki ran at Pocono before a late-race driveshaft failure. Bilicki is instead focused on Saturday’s XFINITY race with RSS Racing (see above).

RETURNING: #96-Gaunt Brothers Racing
The lone “open” car in Sunday’s lineup belongs to the Gaunt Brothers, whose driver Parker Kligerman has made eight Cup starts this year, most recently a 31st in the rain-shortened July race in Daytona. His season-best remains a 15th in the Daytona 500. The #96’s paint scheme will once again salute the 40th anniversary of Toyota Racing Development.

Today in LASTCAR history (July 31, 1955): Crash Carson picked up the first last-place finish of his Cup Series career – not from a crash – but from a loss of oil pressure on his #7 1955 Ford after 8 laps at the Bay Meadows Speedway in San Mateo, California (around 70 miles south-west of LASTCAR headquarters). It was the first and only career NASCAR start for Carson, who was born in nearby Oakland, and just the third-ever for car #7. The 250-lap race, held on a one-mile dirt track, was extended by two laps to 252 due to a scoring error, and Tim Flock was credited with the win by a full circuit over Oregon driver Johnny Kieper.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

ARCA: Even with Mother Nature’s help, Don Thompson last at Pocono

Special thanks to the LASTCAR fan who sent this picture
of Thompson's car and chose to remain anonymous.
by William Soquet Guest Contributor
ARCA Menards Series

Don Thompson finished last for the second time in his ARCA Menards Series career during the FORTS USA 150 at the Pocono Raceway when his #0 Chevrolet did not start the race.

The finish came in Thompson’s 19th attempt in the ARCA Menards Series, and was his first since this race one year ago.

Thompson's name on the roof rail.
PHOTO: Spencer Gogol
Thompson, a driving instructor through Steve Fox’s program at Pocono, has made all but three of his ARCA Menards Series starts at the track. The other three came at New Jersey Motorsports Park in 2015, Talladega in 2017, and Charlotte in 2018. All but one of his starts have come for Wayne Peterson Racing (WPR), the lone exception a "start-and-park" with Roulo Brothers Racing in 2013. For this, Thompson’s first start of the season, he would race WPR’s white composite body, white tape covering up the “6” in the “06” decal and a “D” taped over the “C” for Con (Nicolopoulos) on the name rail.

Along with Thompson, nineteen other cars attempted the Pocono race. Mike Basham returned to Kimmel Racing’s #69, and Ed Pompa campaigned the third Fast Track Racing car with his familiar Clemson Tigers scheme. Todd Gilliland, mired in a Truck Series slump, returned for the first time since Talladega for a confidence boost, this time in Joe Gibbs Racing’s #18 car. Thad Moffitt and Bobby Gerhart continued their part-time schedules, and a couple of returning faces graced the field: Rapahel Lessard made his third start of the year for KBR Development, and Austin Wayne Self made his second start of the year for Win-Tron Racing.

Damage sustained to Thompson's car.
PHOTO: Spencer Gogol
As he was for much of the weekend, Todd Gilliland sat on top of the leaderboard for practice. Thompson was on the other end, approximately twelve seconds back of Gilliland and two seconds back of the next-slowest car, Richard Doheny. Qualifying was much of the same – Gilliland paced the field, and Thompson was at the bottom, though it may not have been that way if he didn’t crash. Going through the tunnel turn, the car snapped loose and the rear end kicked out, and then over-corrected to nose into the wall. That left Mike Basham as the slowest car to complete a lap, more than eleven seconds behind Gilliland.
After the crash, the Wayne Peterson Racing crew from the University of Northern Ohio worked hard to get the car back together before the race started, and they were even helped by lightning delays that pushed the start of the race back. After getting to what was considered a raceable point, the car was pushed out on the grid, only to start leaking water. It was then forced back to the garage by ARCA officials, and even though work continued a little while into the race, eventually the group gave up on the effort. Thompson was still listed as a DNS on the official stat sheet, however, likely due to the fact that his car made it to the grid before the race.

The rest of the Bottom Five exited quietly in a caution-free race. Basham, Richard Doheny, Tommy Vigh Jr., and Brad Smith all retired with mechanical issues within the first 23 laps.

20) #0-Don Thompson / 0 laps / did not start
19) #69-Mike Basham / 2 laps / brakes
18) #11-Richard Doheny / 5 laps / vibration
17) #10-Tommy VIgh Jr. / 7 laps / electrical
16) #48-Brad Smith / 22 laps / handling

1st) Ford (7)
2nd) Toyota (4)
3rd) Chevrolet (3)
4th) Dodge (1)

1st) Fast Track Racing, Wayne Peterson Racing (3)
2nd) Brad Smith Motorsports, Kimmel Racing, Venturini Motorsports (2)
3rd) KBR Development, Mullins Racing, Our Motorsports (1)


Sunday, July 28, 2019

CUP: Chase Elliott scores first last-place finish of his career, ending second-longest streak among active Cup drivers

Chase Elliott picked up the 1st last-place finish of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Gander RV 400 at the Pocono Raceway when his #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet was involved in a single-car accident after 83 of 163 laps.

The finish came in Elliott’s 134th series start. In the Cup Series last-place rankings, it was the 31st for the #9, the 586th from a crash, and the 768th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 50th for the #9, the 1,188th from a crash, and the 1,675th for Chevrolet.

Prior to Sunday, Elliott had the second-most Cup starts of any driver without a last-place finish, trailing only Brad Keselowski (0-for-362 through Sunday). To put his record in perspective, Chase’s famous father Bill Elliott scored his own first last-place finish in just his second series start at Atlanta on March 21, 1976. This was just one of many metrics to measure the younger Elliott’s success in the Cup Series.

Last season, Elliott broke through with his long-awaited first Cup Series win, prevailing in a tight contest with Martin Truex, Jr. at Watkins Glen with his father as spotter. Two more wins came in the Playoffs at Dover and Kansas, keeping him in championship contention all the way until the penultimate round, where he was collected in a late-race wreck with Kurt Busch, leaving him 23rd. After a slow start to the 2019 season, Elliott bounced back at Martinsville, where he was the only driver to challenge a dominant Brad Keselowski, then won at Talladega to kick off a streak of five straight top-five finishes.

But, starting with a 20th-place finish at Michigan, the summer hasn’t been so kind to the young driver. He very nearly finished last at Sonoma, where he lost oil pressure just moments after J.J. Yeley’s Rick Ware Racing entry pulled out of the race. He then ran 11th at Chicagoland, was collected in “The Big One” at Daytona for a 35th-place run, 15th after a flat tire in Kentucky, and was 29th in Loudon after a slipped belt cost him 11 laps. Pocono, where his top-five streak ended in June, would hopefully be better.

But Elliott’s weekend didn’t get off to the best start when he spun in Turn 3 during opening practice and backed into the outside wall, sending him to a backup car. Elliott still managed to rank 14th in that session, then shook down the backup in Happy Hour with the 26th-best lap of 35 drivers. He qualified just 23rd on the grid with a lap of 170.300mph (52.848 seconds), but jumped up to 18th on Sunday morning after nine drivers failed pre-race inspection.

One by one, the nine penalized drivers took turns in last place: 5th-place Austin Dillon, 6th-place Jimmie Johnson, 8th-place William Byron, 17th-place Michael McDowell, 20th-place Ryan Blaney, 28th-place Chris Buescher, 30th-place Corey LaJoie, 35th-place Ross Chastain and 36th-place Reed Sorenson. This lifted original last-place qualifier Austin Theriault in the #52 Trick Shot / Bangor Savings Bank Ford from 38th on the grid to 29th, followed by Blaney, Byron, Johnson, Buescher, Dillon, McDowell, LaJoie, Chastain, and new last-place starter Sorenson in the #27 LeHigh Valley Phantoms Hockey Chevrolet.

Since Elliott was sent to a backup car, however, he too would incur a tail-end penalty once the cars rolled onto the track. Joining him were another two drivers – 23rd-place qualifier Kyle Larson, who nosed his #42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet into the inside wall off Turn 2 during opening practice, and Bubba Wallace, who had a new engine in his #43 Victory Junction Gang Chevrolet after starting 21st. Elliott, Larson, and Wallace didn’t fall all the way to the rear, however, as Sorenson and Chastain remained in the final two spots during the pace laps.

Coming to the green, Sorenson was running by himself at the back of the field as Chastain leap-frogged Theriault, putting the #52 directly in Sorenson’s path. Sorenson pulled to the inside of Turn 1 and ran side-by-side before completing the pass into the Tunnel Turn. The next time by, Sorenson had also passed Quin Houff in Spire Motorsports’ #77 Rapid City Rush Chevrolet, and Theriault now began to catch Houff for 37th.

By Lap 6, Theriault was still last and more than 16 seconds off the lead when 11th-place starter Brad Keselowski made an unscheduled stop. Running near the leaders, Keselowski had slammed the wall off Turn 3, damaging the right-rear of his #2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford. His sluggish stop the next time by put him in last, 50.9 seconds back of the lead, and with polesitter Kevin Harvick within less than two seconds of lapping him. Thus, for the third time this month, Keselowski was again in position to score his first-ever Cup Series last-place finish. Against all odds, Keselowski managed to keep the interval between he and Harvick about the same, and by Lap 15 he had caught and passed Theriault off Turn 2, dropping the #52 to last once more. Harvick passed Theriault by the time the two reached the start / finish line, and the rookie was now the first driver one lap down.

Next to challenge for last place was Matt Tifft, who qualified 22nd in his #36 Surface Sunscreen Ford. Frustrated with his car’s handling, Tifft lost a lap on a pit stop, then was caught speeding down pit road, forcing him to serve a pass-through penalty and go a second lap down. Houff then took a turn in last on Lap 28 after he brought the #77 in for a lengthy pit stop. Theriault and teammate Josh Bilicki in the #53 Token 4 Token Chevrolet swapped last place during their own stops, where Bilicki beat Theriault off pit road. Fresh tires allowed Theriault to catch Sorenson on Lap 35, but he was five spots and one lap behind the #27, so the pass wasn’t for position. That changed on Lap 39, when Sorenson fell onto the same lap as Theriault, who passed Sorenson on track. Sorenson remained in last, three laps down, when Stage 1 ended on Lap 50. At the same time, Brad Keselowski had managed to stay on the lead lap and climbed from last to 24th.

Elliott's historic turn behind the wall on Sunday.
PHOTO: Anthony Liquori, @premium5562
When Stage 2 began, Sorenson stayed in touch with new 37th-place runner B.J. McLeod in the primary Rick Ware Racing entry, a new-look green-and-white version of the #51 Jacob Companies / Pocono Organics Ford. McLeod passed Theriault for position, and Sorenson got a big run off Turn 2 that closed the gap between himself and Theriault’s #52. The result was a side-by-side battle for last place that lasted from Turn 3 until the entrance of Turn 2 where Theriualt, running the high lane, backed off and reclaimed last place.

On Lap 65, with rain in the area, Sorenson and Theriault waged war once more. While faster traffic weaved between the pair, Theriault caught a whiff of the draft from Ty Dillon’s #13 GEICO Military Chevrolet, causing him to close the gap on Sorenson. This put the two cars nose-to-tail in Turn 2, where he remained for more than a lap. On Lap 68, Theriault was all over Sorenson in Turn 1, where the #27 slid up the track, drawing the two cars even once more. This time, it was Theriault who prevailed into the second corner, dropping Sorenson back to last. The next time by, Sorenson lost a fourth lap, but with Theriault not far in front, it looked like their battle would continue.

But on Lap 84, trouble found Chase Elliott. Heading into the same third corner that claimed his primary car, the right-front tire blew, sending him hard into the outside wall. The right-front and right-rear suspension appeared seriously damaged, and the car immediately limped behind the wall, done for the day under the “Crash Clock.” Elliott’s car was listed “unavailable” on RaceView when he was still shown 26th, one lap down. He officially took last place from Sorenson on Lap 89.

Sorenson ended up 32nd, two positions ahead of Theriault, who rounded out the Bottom Five as the last car under power. Hard crashes eliminated both 37th-place Ryan Preece, who skated his #47 Kroger Chevrolet into the outside wall, and 36th-place David Ragan, who was turned into the frontstretch wall in his #38 MDS Transport Ford without drawing a caution. What did draw a yellow was 35th-place Bilicki, whose #53 broke a driveshaft off the first corner, causing his car to stop on the apron with just six laps to go. The resulting caution ended a fuel mileage race between Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex, Jr., and Kevin Harvick, which Hamlin went on to win in overtime.

*This marked the first time car #9 has ever finished last in a Cup race at Pocono. In fact, the number hadn’t finished last in any Cup Series points races since March 22, 2015, when Sam Hornish, Jr.’s Medallion Bank / Mercury Marine Ford finished under power, 54 laps down, during the Auto Club 400 at Fontana.

38) #9-Chase Elliott / 83 laps / crash
37) #47-Ryan Preece / 114 laps / crash
36) #38-David Ragan / 123 laps / crash
35) #53-Josh Bilicki / 146 laps / driveshaft
34) #52-Austin Theriault / 157 laps / running

1st) Rick Ware Racing (6)
2nd) Front Row Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing (3)
3rd) Chip Ganassi Racing, Richard Childress Racing (2)
4th) Germain Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Motorsports Business Management, Spire Motorsports (1)

1st) Chevrolet (12)
2nd) Ford (7)
3rd) Toyota (2)


XFINITY: J.J. Yeley’s return to XFINITY action a short one in Iowa

Jeff Green in the #38 earlier this year.
PHOTO: Rubbin's Racin'
J.J. Yeley picked up the 7th last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s U.S. Cellular 250 at the Iowa Speedway when his unsponsored #38 RSS Racing Chevrolet fell out with ignition trouble after 5 of 250 laps.

The finish, which came in Yeley’s 315th series start, was his first of the season and first since last fall’s inaugural Roval race, 24 races ago. In the XFINITY Series last-place rankings, it was the 17th for the #38, the 41st from ignition trouble, and the 530th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 50th for the #38, the 110th from ignition trouble, and the 1,674th for Chevrolet.

While remaining a part-time driver in the Cup Series for Rick Ware Racing, Yeley reunited with RSS Racing this past weekend for the first time since last fall at Homestead. The opportunity came about both from Jeff Green’s recovery from surgery and a stand-alone weekend for the series in Iowa. Yeley would drive a #38 Chevrolet alongside an unsponsored #93 for Camden Murphy. While Yeley’s car was the familiar black like Ryan Sieg’s flagship #39, Murphy’s #93 ran a white scheme with red numbers.

Yeley made a statement in his return to the series, putting up the 12th-fastest time of 36 drivers in opening practice before not participating in Happy Hour. In qualifying, he secured the 18th starting spot with a speed of 130.181mph (24.197 seconds).

Starting 38th and last on the grid was Ryan Repko, whose #01 The McLain Group Chevrolet was the only driver on the entry list to not complete a qualifying lap. The issue that prevented him from running appeared to carry over onto the grid as his car didn’t fire at the command, and only got rolling about a minute later. Repko still secured his starting spot despite a 39-car entry list as Mark Meunier, the 55-year-old ARCA driver named to drive Rick Ware Racing’s #17 Chevrolet on Friday, wrecked in Turn 3 during his warm-up lap in qualifying. The wreck caused Meunier to complete a return lap of just 69.595mph (45.262 seconds), nearly 22 seconds off Christopher Bell’s pole speed.

Repko incurred a redundant tail-end penalty prior to the race for unapproved adjustments, the same penalty handed to his JD Motorsports teammate Garrett Smithley, who put the #0 Chevrolet 35th on the grid. At least two other drivers fell to the rear voluntarily – 34th-place Morgan Shepherd in the #89 VisOne RV Chevrolet and Yeley. Shepherd had an unusual qualifying lap of his own when the crew accidentally left the maneuvering steering wheel on the roof of the car, causing it to fall onto the track during his lap. The issue didn’t slow the veteran any as he managed to turn the fastest lap of the five drivers relying on Owner Points.

When the race started, Shepherd was last across the stripe, 5.030 seconds back. He passed 37th-place Mike Harmon in the #74 Chevrolet, but Harmon moved back past by the end of Lap 2. Shepherd next raced past the #66 Toyota of 36th-place starter Stan Mullis, who gradually lost time to the cars in front of him. Mullis was 10.971 seconds back of the leader when Shepherd raced past and was six-tenths of a second back of the #89 after the fourth circuit.

Mullis was still last after the sixth lap, when Yeley’s car was first to pull behind the wall with a mechanical issue. On Lap 37, NASCAR officials confirmed the #38 was out of the race, citing an ignition failure. That same time by, K&N Pro Series West standout Will Rodgers, making his NASCAR national touring series debut, pulled into the garage area seven laps down. Driving Brandonbilt Motorsports’ second car, #68, with backing from the American Liver Foundation, Rodgers would go on to finish 28th, 39 laps down.

First of the cars Rodgers passed was eventual 37th-place finisher Austin Cindric. Cindric put the #22 Money Lion Ford 8th on the grid but scuffed the wall on the first lap and was eliminated in an accident with Noah Gragson. For both Cindric and Yeley, it was their first Bottom Five of 2019. Shepherd finished 37th, returning from an early trip to the garage to pass Cindric. Rounding out the Bottom Five were Timmy Hill in Motorsports Business Management’s #13 Toyota and Mike Harmon’s unsponsored #74 Chevrolet.

Saturday also saw a pair of impressive finishes. Shane Lee finished 7th in just the sixth-ever start for H2 Motorsports. Returning to the track where the team made its debut in June, Lee’s previous best with the team was a 16th in Kentucky. Also turning heads was Ray Black, Jr., whose 11th-place finish in SS-Green Light Racing’s #07 Isokern Fireplaces Chevrolet matched his season-best run at Las Vegas.

*This was Yeley’s second last-place finish in an XFINITY race at Iowa. The other also occurred while driving for RSS Racing on June 17, 2018, when he pulled the last-place weekend sweep along with the Truck Series.

38) #38-J.J. Yeley / 5 laps / ignition
37) #22-Austin Cindric / 43 laps / crash
36) #89-Morgan Shepherd / 73 laps / brakes
35) #13-Timmy Hill / 80 laps / suspension
34) #74-Mike Harmon / 87 laps / clutch

1st) Motorsports Business Management (6)
2nd) RSS Racing (5)
3rd) DGM Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing (2)
4th) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, JD Motorsports, Kaulig Racing, Rick Ware Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (11)
2nd) Toyota (8)


TRUCKS: Stewart Friesen wrecks in the first corner; Tony Mrakovich finishes a strong 12th for NEMCO Motorsports

Stewart Friesen picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series career in Saturday’s Gander RV 150 at the Pocono Raceway when his #52 Halmar International Chevrolet triggered a multi-truck accident and did not complete any of the 60 laps.

The finish, which came in Friesen’s 62nd series start, was his first of the season and first in a Truck Series race since Kansas on May 17, 2017, 56 races ago. In the Truck Series last-place rankings, it was the 7th for the #52, the 152nd from a crash, and the 377th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 55th for the #52, the 1,187th from a crash, and the 1,673rd for Chevrolet.

While Friesen continues his search for an elusive first Truck Series victory, he has steadily become one of the most consistent drivers on the circuit. Heading into Saturday’s race, he’d come within one Top Five of matching his season total in 2018, leading the point standings for two weeks before settling 34 points back of leader Grant Enfinger. He’d also managed to finish inside the Top Twenty in every race, failing to finish just two of the first thirteen rounds, and rode a streak of four consecutive top-five finishes.

Friesen had another fast truck at Pocono, where he ran 4th in opening practice, 12th in Happy Hour, and qualified 3rd with an average speed of 170.661mph (52.736 seconds). It marked the sixth time in the season’s fourteen races that Friesen qualified inside the Top 5, including his 3rd and most recent pole in Martinsville.

While Friesen was one of 31 entrants on the preliminary list, a full field of 32 was secured by Friday as Al Niece rolled off a black #38 Chevrolet for T.J. Bell, who would thus make his first series start since Kansas. While Bell qualified a solid 21st, the 32nd and final spot went to Jennifer Jo Cobb in her #10 Chevrolet. Cobb, nearly seven seconds off Austin Hill’s pole lap, started alongside new teammate Daniel Sasnett, who moved from the Reaume Brothers Racing team to drive the 31st-place #0 Chevrolet. Radio traffic revealed NASCAR officials had difficulty finding Sasnett’s spotter until three minutes before the command to start engines.

Two of the Reaume trucks were among the three sent to the rear before the race for unapproved adjustments – Josh Reaume himself in the #33 sponsored for a second straight year by the LeHigh Valley Phantoms Hockey team and Mason Massey in a #34 Toyota. The third truck sent to the rear was 15th-place qualifier Ben Rhodes, whose #99 Ford debuted a “throwback” black-and-orange scheme to debut a new three-race deal with returning NASCAR sponsor Havoline motor oil. Sasnett voluntarily fell behind the trio prior to the start, as did 28th-place Bryant Barnhill in the third Reaume truck, #32, and 19th-place Joe Nemechek in his #87 Chevrolet.

The green flag waved with Nemechek in last, 4.149 seconds back of the lead, when trouble broke out in the very first corner. Friesen was already under attack for the 3rd spot and was running the inside lane alongside GMS Racing teammates Sheldon Creed and Brett Moffitt. Near corner apex, Friesen’s truck broke loose and spun up the track, forcing the rest of the field to scatter. As the gap closed between Friesen’s truck and the outside wall, both Tyler Ankrum and Jordan Anderson squeezed through. Anthony Alfredo, following the pair in his #15 Steelsmith Toyota, wasn’t so fortunate. The two made contact, tearing up the driver’s side of Alfredo’s truck, which just managed to make it to pit road.

Anthony Alfredo to the garage after the crash.
PHOTO: Anthony Liquori, @premium5562
The accident dropped Alfredo to last by the end of the first lap with Friesen in 31st. Alfredo managed to return to the track after two laps, dropping Friesen to last. The damage proved too much to repair, and Friesen was the first retiree from the race, his first Bottom Five of 2019. At the same time, Alfredo incurred two penalties for improper fueling and pitting too soon. Despite the effort, Alfredo didn’t clear the “Crash Clock,” and was officially out under the damaged vehicle policy. He finished 31st.

Friesen’s wreck dropped him to 4th in the overall point standings, but most critically 8th in the Playoff rankings, just 13 points ahead of Harrison Burton for the final spot.

Joe Nemechek lost nine laps early when he went to the garage for a mechanical issue but returned to action in Stage 2 before returning a second time on Lap 33. This moved him from 30th to 28th at the time of his second turn behind the wall, ahead of both 29th-place Sasnett and 30th-place Austin Hill in the #16 United Rentals Toyota. Sasnett had pulled off the track as a “start-and-park” for the Cobb team while polesitter Hill endured his second-straight mechanical issue in as many races, this time a burned clutch.

Turning heads in the late stages of Saturday’s race was Tony Mrakovich, making just his second series start. Unable to qualify his own #43 Street Stores Hardware Chevrolet earlier this year, Mrakovich was making his second start for NEMCO Motorsports, teamed with Joe Nemechek’s #87 in the #8 Chevrolet. Mrakovich, who finished 15th and 21st in his two ARCA Menards Series starts at Pocono, came home a strong 12th. It was the best run by NEMCO’s #8, often delegated to a “start-and-park” due to lack of funding, since the Daytona opener, where Angela Ruch finished a season-best 8th.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #52 in the Truck Series race at Pocono.
*Friesen is the highest-qualified last-place finisher of a Truck Series race since April 2, 2016, when Johnny Sauter also started 3rd before an early crash at Martinsville.
*Friesen is also the highest-qualified last-place finisher to not complete a single lap of a Truck Series race. The previous record was the 6th spot, set by both Terry Cook at Homestead on April 4, 1998, and matched by Chris Horn at Kentucky on June 17, 2000.

32) #52-Stewart Friesen / 0 laps / crash
31) #15-Anthony Alfredo / 2 laps / crash
30) #16-Austin Hill / 21 laps / clutch
29) #0-Daniel Sasnett / 21 laps / handling
28) #87-Joe Nemechek / 24 laps / handling

1st) NEMCO Motorsports (3)
2nd) Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing, Young’s Motorsports (2)
2nd) Copp Motorsports, DGR-Crosley, Halmar Friesen Racing, Niece Motorsports, Norm Benning Racing, Reaume Brothers Racing, ThorSport Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (12)
2nd) Ford, Toyota (1)


Thursday, July 25, 2019

PREVIEW: While several Truck teams are missing in Pocono, XFINITY race sees Rodgers and Vargas attempt their series debuts

PHOTO: Stewart-Haas Racing
Saturday, July 27, 2019 (1:16 P.M. Eastern)
TRUCKS Race 14 of 23
Gander RV 150 at Pocono
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Bayley Currey

There are just 31 trucks entered in Saturday’s race, threatening the second short field of 2019 and first since Kansas, where two late withdrawals brought the field down to 30. UPDATE: The list is now at a full 32 after Al Niece entered the #38 truck with T.J. Bell.

RETURNING: #0-Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing
Daniel Sasnett returns to the circuit for the first time since Gateway, but this time in the second Jennifer Jo Cobb truck, which was last entered at Chicagoland with Joey Gase. Sasnett had previously driven for Reaume Brothers Racing.

Tony Mrakovich seeks his second Truck Series start and first since the June race at Texas, again driving for NEMCO Motorsports. Sponsorship continues from Street Stores Wholesale Hardware, the backer of Mrakovich’s own #43 team which has been missing since their withdrawal from Dover.

MISSING: #9-CR7 Motorsports
Codie Rohrbaugh will not be making the trip to Pocono after finishing his first race under power in 2019, coming home 14th in Kentucky.

MISSING: #11-Rette Jones Racing
Spencer Davis is also not among Saturday’s entrants after a strong 8th-place finish in Kentucky.

Dylan Lupton also does not have a ride for Saturday after finishes of 10th and 5th his last two starts. Anthony Alfredo returns to the controls of the #15 for his first start since a 9th at Chicagoland.

After once reporting their team would close, Jim Rosenblum’s effort continues on, and will make their annual trip to Pocono. Bryan Dauzat, who we last saw this year in Daytona finishing 31st, remains the driver with sponsorship from both the FDNY and American Genomics.

MISSING: #30-On Point Motorsports
Brennan Poole and the On Point team are not headed to Pocono following their 15th-place finish in Kentucky, the fourth race they’ve missed in the last eight rounds.

RETURNING: #32-Reaume Brothers Racing
Josh Reaume brings his third truck back for the first time since Chicagoland, and Bryant Barnhill will drive. Barnhill’s lone Truck start in 2019 came at Gateway, where he drove Reaume’s #34 to a 22nd-place finish.

DRIVER CHANGE: #33-Reaume Brothers Racing
DRIVER SWAP: #34-Reaume Brothers Racing
Reaume’s other two trucks will see different drivers as Mason Massey moves from the #33 to the #34, replacing Josh Bilicki, 20th at Kentucky, who will drive for Rick Ware Racing on Sunday (see below). Reaume himself will drive in Massey’s place in the #33 with returning sponsorship from the local Phantoms Hockey team, which will also back the #27 Chevrolet on the Cup side for Reed Sorenson.

RETURNING: #38-Niece Motorsports
T.J. Bell was a late entry by Friday which brought the entry list to a full 32. The team last ran at Texas in June, where Ross Chastain put it 10th at the finish. Bell's lone start of the season was the #38's other race at Kansas, where he ran 26th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #44-Niece Motorsports
Defending last-placer Bayley Currey takes the place of Jeb Burton in Al Niece’s #44 Chevrolet. Currey’s lone Truck start in 2019 came at Kansas, where a collaborative effort between Mark Beaver and Vizion Motorsports yielded a 29th-place finish after only four laps.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Kyle Busch Motorsports
Christian Eckes, now 3rd in the ARCA Menards Series standings, will make his third Truck Series start of the season and first since Gateway. Eckes started from the pole in each of his last two starts. He takes over for Brandon Jones, 23rd in Kentucky, who is in the XFINITY race in Iowa for Joe Gibbs Racing.

MISSING: #56-Hill Motorsports
Timmy and Tyler Hill will not be among the entrants at Pocono following Tyler’s 11th-place run in Kentucky.

MISSING: #68-Clay Greenfield Racing
Clay Greenfield is still another driver not entered after he ran 16th in Kentucky.


Saturday, July 27, 2019 (5:14 P.M. Eastern)
XFINITY Race 19 of 33
U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Josh Bilicki

There are 39 drivers entered for 38 spots, meaning one team will miss the show.

DRIVER CHANGE: #8-JR Motorsports
Zane Smith eyes his seventh start of the season and first since a 17th-place showing in Chicagoland, taking the place of Loudon 7th-place finisher Ryan Truex. PatientPop is the listed sponsor.

TEAM UPDATE: #11-Kaulig Racing
Following last week’s tragic passing of Nick Harrison, the preliminary entry list did not name a crew chief for Justin Haley’s team. On Tuesday came news that team president Chris Rice will serve as crew chief for Iowa.

MISSING: #12-Penske Racing
The part-time Penske car is not entered this week, one week after Paul Menard’s eventful 5th-place finish in Loudon.

DRIVER SWAP: #13-Motorsports Business Management
DRIVER CHANGE: #66-Motorsports Business Management
Timmy Hill slides over from MBM’s #66 to the #13, replacing team owner Carl Long who isn’t entered. Stan Mullis returns to the #66 as in previous Iowa races. Mullis’ third and most recent start of the year came at Iowa, where he ran a season-best 28th before power steering issues.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-JD Motorsports
With a sixth-place finish in last year’s K&N Pro Series East championship, La Mirada, California driver Ryan Vargas seeks his NASCAR national touring series debut on Saturday. He takes the place of Tyler Matthews, who ran 32nd in Loudon. Cranio Care Bears is the listed sponsor of the Johnny Davis entry.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-Rick Ware Racing
The preliminary entry list had no driver listed in place of Bayley Currey, who will be in Pocono driving Al Niece’s #44. Currey finished 35th in Loudon. UPDATE: By Thursday, 55-year-old ARCA driver Mark Meunier was named the driver and seeks his NASCAR national touring series debut.

DRIVER CHANGE: #18-Joe Gibbs Racing
Riley Herbst rejoins the Joe Gibbs Racing effort for the first time since Kentucky, where he ran 11th. Harrison Burton finished 29th in last Saturday’s race at Loudon following his tangle with Paul Menard. Monster Energy is again Herbst’s sponsor.

MISSING: #21-Richard Childress Racing
Kaz Grala and the part-time RCR car are not entered in Saturday’s race after driver and team finished 14th in Loudon.

Welcome back J.J. Yeley, who rejoins RSS Racing in the #38, a team he last drove for in the 2018 season finale at Homestead. Josh Bilicki moves from the #38 to the #93 as lead driver Ryan Sieg returns to his #39 in place of C.J. McLaughlin, who isn’t entered after he ran 28th in Loudon. Bilicki will run double-duty with the Cup race on Sunday in Pocono for Rick Ware Racing (see below). UPDATE: Bilicki will not run double duty now as Camden Murphy has been swapped into his #93.

DRIVER CHANGE: #68-Brandonbilt Motorsports
Will Rodgers, the same K&N Pro Series West driver who so impressed Kevin Harvick during the series’ 2017 visit to Sonoma, will attempt his NASCAR national touring series debut in the second Brandonbilt Motorsports entry. The American Liver Foundation will sponsor the #68 Chevrolet. Rodgers’ entry bumps Dillon Bassett, who DNQ’d with the team at Loudon, back to Mario Gosselin’s #90, where he replaces Alex Labbe, who isn’t entered.

DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
Mike Harmon returns to his #74 Chevrolet in place of Camden Murphy, who failed to qualify at Loudon.

DRIVER CHANGE: #89-Shepherd Racing Ventures
Morgan Shepherd also returns to XFINITY competition on Saturday, replacing Landon Cassill, who qualified his car 24th in Loudon before a throttle linkage issue left him 37th.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Stefan Parsons returns for the first time since his breakout 12th-place finish at Daytona earlier this month. He arrives in place of Loudon’s 25th-place finisher Tommy Joe Martins, who announced he will begin to drive for Motorsports Business Management at Watkins Glen. Martins’ plans are to run six or seven races for this year for MBM and about half the races in 2020.

DRIVER CHANGE: #01-JD Motorsports
Ryan Repko returns to the site of his 22nd-place finish in his series debut this past June, and will again be sponsored by The McLain Group in Johnny Davis’ #01 Chevrolet. He takes the place of B.J. McLeod, who ran 21st in Loudon, and will this week drive for Rick Ware in Pocono (see below).


Sunday, July 28, 2019
CUP Race 21 of 36
Gander RV 400 at Pocono
2018 Last-Place Finisher: B.J. McLeod

There are 38 drivers entered for Sunday’s main event, one more car than last week, but still the 16th short field of the 2019 Cup Series season.

PAINT SCHEME: #4-Stewart-Haas Racing
Fresh off his first victory of 2019, Kevin Harvick will debut another radical new paint scheme on Sunday. In response to his “Millennial” car from the All-Star Race, a black-and-neon “Gen-X” car will hit the track this weekend.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
RETURNING: #53-Rick Ware Racing
The preliminary entry list showed all three Rick Ware Racing cars entered, but with no driver, sponsor, or crew chief listed. By Wednesday, it was B.J. McLeod returning to the #51 car, taking the place of Andy Seuss, who finished 28th in his series debut last week in Loudon. Pocono Organics will join Jacob Companies as sponsor. Austin Theriault, who ran 35th after rear gear issues in his own Cup debut that same Sunday, will again drive the #52 Bangor Savings Bank Chevrolet, while Seuss is not entered. Back on the circuit is the “open” #53 team, last seen at Daytona earlier this month. That car, sponsored by Token 4 Token, will be driven by Josh Bilicki, who ran that same car at Chicagoland to a 33rd-place finish.

SPONSOR UPDATE: #00-StarCom Racing
Longtime Derrike Cope sponsor Mane ‘n Tail rejoins the StarCom Racing team with Landon Cassill. The sponsor previously backed StarCom last August in Michigan, yielding a 29th-place finish.

Today in LASTCAR history (July 25, 1998): Former Atlanta Falcons coach Jerry Glanville picked up the first last-place finish of his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career in the Tempus Resorts 300K at Pikes Peak International Raceway after his #81 Unifirst Uniforms / HBO Sports Ford crashed after 18 laps. Glanville would make just four more series starts in the 1999 season, but would never improve his series-best finish of 14th on three previous occasions.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

ARCA: Driveshaft issues force rookie Tommy Vigh Jr. out early at Iowa

Vigh's car at Daytona
by William Soquet Guest Contributor
ARCA Menards Series

Tommy Vigh Jr. scored the first last-place finish of his ARCA Menards Series career in Friday night’s Fans With Benefits 150 at Iowa Speedway when his #10 Extreme Kleaner / Thomas Coffee Ford fell out after 4 of 150 laps with driveshaft problems. The finish came in Vigh’s 17th series start.

A native of Otisville, New York (not far from the home of former ARCA driver Tyler Dippel), Vigh is another one of ARCA’s through-and-through blue collar racers. He started his racing career in street stocks in 2009 and later moved up to the Pro Stock division and then to Sportsman Modifieds at Orange County Speedway, competing in regional DIRTcar events. He has won multiple fan favorite awards, and has found victory lane multiple times on the dirt. He moved up to the ARCA Racing Series in 2017, driving the #10 for Andy Hillenburg at Madison. It was an adventurous debut, and Vigh finished the last car running, eighteen laps down in 15th. He found more success at the two dirt ovals, recording a pair of 13th-place finishes in the #10 machine. All three efforts were backed by Extreme Kleaner, owned by a friend of Vigh’s.

That same company was announced to back Vigh’s Daytona debut, which was announced just before Christmas last year. After appearances at Five Flags and Salem, team owner Andy Hillenburg confirmed to the author that Vigh would in fact contest the full season. Vigh also enrolled in the Bounty Rookie of the Year Challenge, in which he currently sits second behind Christian Eckes. His early 2019 season was highlighted by a vicious crash at Talladega and then his first top-ten finish two weeks later, scoring a ninth at Toledo. At Pocono and subsequent events, however, Vigh has seemed to "start-and-park" for most races, failing to finish all except Madison, where the return trip went much better than the original, yielding an 11th-place finish. Vigh wasn’t even on the preliminary entry list for Iowa, but replaced current ARCA LASTCAR championship leader Richard Doheny by the time the race came around.

ARCA remained an undercard event at Iowa, but instead of supporting stock cars, they joined the IndyCar Series this weekend. Nineteen cars graced the entry list, complete with a variety of returning part-timers. Stadium Super Truck driver Gavin Harlien ran in Venturini Motorsports #55 for the second of his three scheduled starts, Kaden Honeycutt returned in his family-owned #38 for the first time since Nashville, Rick Clifton and Jason Miles rounded out Fast Track Racing’s other two cars, and Colby Howard made his first ARCA start in thirteen months, driving Win-Tron Racing’s #32.

All of the nineteen cars on the entry list participated in practice, with Chandler Smith cementing his spot at the top of the leaderboard for the weekend. Richard Doheny drive the 10 car in practice, and that entry anchored the charts, six seconds behind Smith. Fast Track Racing teammate Jason Miles was at the bottom for qualifying, running roughly the same speed Doheny did during practice.

At the beginning of the race, both the 10 car and the 23 of Bret Holmes were sent to the back, the 10 for a driver change to Vigh and the 23 for going to a backup car. Holmes made it up to 13th by the end of Lap 1, but Miles and Vigh remained in the bottom two spots until both of them pulled behind the wall, Vigh after four laps and Miles after 20 laps. Brad Smith pulled in after 35 laps, the last entry to retire from the race. Tim Richmond was the last car running after a spin in the late goings of the race, and Scott Melton rounded out the Bottom Five, eleven laps down.

19) #10-Tommy Vigh Jr. / 4 laps / driveshaft
18) #11-Jason Miles / 20 laps / radio
17) #48-Brad Smith / 35 laps / overheating
16) #06-Tim Richmond / 135 laps / running
15) #69-Scott Melton / 139 laps / running

1st) Ford (7)
2nd) Toyota (4)
3rd) Chevrolet (2)
4th) Dodge (1)

1st) Fast Track Racing (3)
2nd) Brad Smith Motorsports, Kimmel Racing, Venturini Motorsports, Wayne Peterson Racing (2)
3rd) KBR Development, Mullins Racing, Our Motorsports (1)


Sunday, July 21, 2019

CUP: Daniel Hemric scores first last-place finish in any of NASCAR’s top three series

PHOTO: Mike Douton, @mikedouton
Daniel Hemric picked up the 1st last-place finish of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway when his #8 Okuma Chevrolet fell out with crash damage after 110 of 301 laps.

The finish came in Hemric’s 22nd series start. In the Cup Series last-place rankings, it was the 30th for the #8, the 585th from a crash, and the 767th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 46th for the #8, the 1,186th for Chevrolet, and the 1,672nd for Chevrolet.

A 28-year-old from Kannapolis, North Carolina, Hemric worked his way from go-karts and Legends cars to a part-time campaign in the modified ranks. He also finished 12th in his lone ARCA Menards Series start at Daytona in 2015. That same year saw him go full-time in the Truck Series for team owner Bob Newberry, building on three prior starts with a best of 12th in the 2014 finale at Homestead. With a best of three 4th-place finishes under his belt, Hemric joined Brad Keselowski Racing the next year, where he finished 6th in the series standings. In 50 series starts, he never once finished last.

The 2017 season saw Hemric join forces with Richard Childress Racing for the first of two full-time season in the XFINITY Series. Five poles and five runner-up finishes followed. Both years, he fought his way all the way to the Championship Four in Homestead, where he ranked 4th in 2017 and 3rd just last year. Out of 66 combined series starts, Hemric again never once finished last.

This year marks Hemric’s first full season in the Cup Series, again driving for RCR, and carrying the #8 previously held by Dale Earnhardt, Inc. until their merger and closure in 2009. After qualifying a Childress car for Paul Menard in 2017, he turned heads in his only two starts last year, qualifying 22nd in his series debut at Richmond and 11th in the first-ever Roval race. Joining teammate Austin Dillon as part of RCR’s 50th Anniversary, Hemric began the year with a top-five run at Atlanta undone by a late tire issue, then a series-best 5th at Talladega. He also joined in with Bubba Wallace and Corey LaJoie tossing footballs to fans in the stands during rain delays. Following a 24th-place finish in Kentucky, he sat 24th in points, and still without a last-place finish.

Then came Loudon.

Hemric began the weekend 17th in opening practice and qualified 19th with a speed of 134.553mph (28.307 seconds). He then improved to 7th in the second session and 19th in Happy Hour.

Austin Theriault (#52) and Alex Bowman on pace laps.
PHOTO: Mike Douton, @mikedouton
Starting 37th and last was a frustrated Alex Bowman, who endured a challenging weekend leading up to the race. He’d lost his primary car in qualifying, when the driveshaft ripped free just past the stripe, damaging the transmission tunnel and stopping him in Turn 1. His backup car was also gone, wrecked in Turns 1 and 2 during Happy Hour. The car that rolled out to the grid had yet to turn a lap. It was Jimmie Johnson’s backup car, the decals peeled off and replaced with his own. This gave a new look to the #88 Axalta Chevrolet as it now had a black base in place of the familiar dark blue. This not only put Bowman last on the grid as the only driver without a qualifying time, but incurred a redundant tail-end penalty for the backup car. On top of all this, the car didn’t make it onto the grid until a whole hour after the rest of the field as it took a second go-round to clear inspection.

Several other drivers found trouble in the lead-up to the race with another four drivers sent to backup cars following separate single-car accidents in practice: 15th-place Kyle Larson, 22nd-place William Byron, 23rd-place Denny Hamlin and 26th-place Ryan Newman. None of the backup cars started in the rear, however, as another five drivers who qualified 32nd through 36th also dropped to the rear: Ross Chastain, Reed Sorenson, Quin Houff, Andy Seuss, and Austin Theriault. Seuss and Theriault were making their Cup debuts, each as teammates at Rick Ware Racing. Chastain would take the last spot with new sponsorship on his #15 from

On the break, Chastain held last with Houff and Seuss in front of him. The two cars made contact, and Chastain closed the gap to complete Lap 1. The run continued through Turns 1 and 2, where Chastain pulled low with Seuss in the middle and Houff high, passing both cars. Houff edged Seuss in the process, putting his #51 Jacob Companies Ford in last. Theriault then slipped to 36th in the #52 Bangor Saving Bank Chevrolet and the two began a race of their own, Seuss in Theriault’s tire tracks. Both gradually lost ground, and race leader Kyle Busch caught the pair off Turn 4, then split them in the middle lane to put each a lap down. Seuss lost a second lap on the 31st circuit.

On Lap 35, Ty Dillon entered the last-place battle when a tire issue forced him to make an unscheduled pit stop in the #13 GEICO Military Chevrolet, dropping him two laps down. The fresh tires allowed Dillon to catch up to the tail end of the field, and he caught and passed Seuss for 36th on Lap 38. Ty’s brother Austin Dillon then found trouble in the #3 Behr Ultra Chevrolet when a tire blew in Turn 4, stuffing his car into the outside wall. An extended stay on pit road dropped Dillon off the lead lap. Behind him, last place swapped between Theriault and the #77 #MyTrackMyRoots Chevrolet followed each other down pit road.

Theriault retook last on Lap 51 coming to the restart, but engaged in a spirted side-by-side battle with Houff for position. Theriault had a good run on the inside, but Houff maintained the drive off. On Lap 64, Theriault nearly got by before Houff sped past off Turn 2, and again Kyle Busch caught the pair, splitting them in the middle lane as each were put three laps down. It wasn’t until the 67th time by that Theriault finally cleared the #77, putting Houff to last for the first time. He didn’t hold it long as Austin Dillon slowed in Turn 2 with another flat tire, sending him to pit road. Dillon took last when he lost a third lap on pit road on Lap 71, then returned to action five circuits back. Still another stop for the #3 came on Lap 78, dropping him eight laps down as the crew tried to make repairs to the damaged right-front corner. Yet another tire let go on Lap 94, and the #3 pulled into the garage that time by for extended repairs. The crew looked over the toe end and found the sway bar was seriously bent.

As the Richard Childress Racing crew reassembled Dillon’s suspension, trouble broke out on the track. Chase Elliott’s #9 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet broke the water pump, spraying fluid in Turns 1 and 2. Directly behind them were Hemric and the #41 Haas Automation Ford of Daniel Suarez. The two cars made contact and spun, drawing the caution as Elliott made his way to pit road. It was during this caution on Lap 113 that Elliott returned to the track, now 27 laps back. At the same time, both Hemric and Elliott were dropping down the rankings 2 laps down, each with the hood up on their Chevrolets. This proved significant as both Hemric and Elliott soon dropped to 35th and 36th with neither having scored a last-place finish in Cup.

The tie was broken on Lap 120, when Hemric pulled into the garage 9 laps down and took 36th from Elliott. Elliott then returned to the race two circuits later, 11 laps down to the leader. Hemric’s car disappeared off RaceView on Lap 127, was declared out of the race around Lap 134, and on Lap 138 Austin Dillon finally passed his teammate, dropping the #8 to last. Elliott went on to finish 29th.

Finishing 36th was Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., whose #17 Fastenal Ford clobbered the Turn 2 wall on Lap 138. Theriault finished 35th after the rear gear failed on his #52 just short of the two-thirds mark. The 34th spot fell to David Ragan, whose #38 Compressor World Ford spent an extended stay behind the wall late before he returned to finish forty laps down. Rounding out the group was Kyle Larson, whose backup #42 McDonald’s Chevrolet was collected in two separate accidents.

*This marked the first last-place finish for car #8 in a Cup Series race since November 11, 2007, when Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s Budweiser Chevrolet crashed after 118 laps at Phoenix. Junior also scored the number’s only two previous last-place runs at Loudon – the first of the driver’s career on July 11, 1999 and another on July 16, 2006.

37) #8-Daniel Hemric / 110 laps / crash
36) #17-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. / 135 laps / crash
35) #52-Austin Theriault / 185 laps / rear gear
34) #38-David Ragan / 261 laps / running
33) #42-Kyle Larson / 264 laps / crash

1st) Rick Ware Racing (6)
2nd) Front Row Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing (3)
3rd) Chip Ganassi Racing, Richard Childress Racing (2)
4th) Germain Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Motorsports Business Management, Spire Motorsports (1)

1st) Chevrolet (11)
2nd) Ford (7)
3rd) Toyota (2)


XFINITY: Carl Long’s first start of the season yields first last-place finish since 2015

PHOTO: Stephen Pollard III, @nascarcatholic
Carl Long picked up the 3rd last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Roxor 200 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway when his #13 Toyota fell out with rear gear trouble after 16 of 200 laps.

The finish, which came in Long’s 126th series start, was his first since May 17, 2015 at Iowa, 140 races ago. In the XFINITY Series last-place rankings, it was the 8th for the #13, the 14th from rear gear trouble, and the 128th for Toyota. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 31st for the #13, the 42nd from rear gear trouble, and the 318th for Toyota.

Long was making his first start of the season as a driver and drove for his own team, Motorsports Business Management (MBM). In addition to their part-time effort as an “open” Cup Series team, MBM has focused even more on the XFINITY Series this year, fielding four cars (#13, #35, #42, and #66). The team’s best showing this year has been a pair of 16th-place finishes by Joey Gase in the Daytona opener and Timmy Hill at Dover, though Hill was in the thick of the lead battle in the return to Daytona two weeks ago before he was collected in a late-race crash.

The car Long would drive was the #13 Toyota, a car which had qualified for all but one race this season, and failed to finish all but one it started. The car had seen six different drivers – Max Tullman, John Jackson, Stan Mullis, Joe Nemechek, Timmy Hill, and Chad Finchum – but other than a season-best 28th in the Daytona opener had yet to turn more than 82 laps of a race. Those 82 circuits were completed last Thursday by Jackson, who was part of a spirited battle for position among many of the series’ underfunded drivers (LINK). A similar battle would take place on Saturday.

Long didn’t complete his only attempted lap in opening practice, then jumped to 27th of 39 drivers in Happy Hour. He improved even more in qualifying, taking the 23rd spot with a speed of 126.328mph (30.150 seconds), besting the team’s previous season-high starting spot of 32nd in Charlotte. The result was Long’s fourth-straight start in the XFINITY race at Loudon and his seventh overall. His most recent start in the series was the 2018 finale at Homestead, where he turned the final 180 laps of the last Dodge Challenger in the field.

With 41 drivers entered for 38 spots, the three sent home were Dillon Bassett, in an unsponsored Brandonbilt Motorsports #68 Chevrolet, Josh Bilicki in RSS Racing’s #38 Larry’s Hard Lemonade Chevrolet, and Camden Murphy in Mike Harmon’s #74 Woobies Shoes / Threatcon 5 Clothing Chevrolet.

Starting 38th and last on Saturday was Tyler Matthews, back on the XFINITY circuit for the first time since Iowa, driving JD Motorsports’ #15 LineTec Services Chevrolet. He was joined at the rear by three more drivers – 3rd-place Austin Cindric with a new engine in his #22 Money Lion Ford, 29th-place Shane Lee, driver of the #28 Toyota, who missed driver introductions, and Vinnie Miller, whose #78 JW Transport Chevrolet was qualified 28th by Ross Chastain. Long fell to the rear along with them, as did 24th-place qualifier Landon Cassill in the #89 VisoneRV Chevrolet. As in previous races with more than 38 entrants, Cassill had been swapped in to drive Morgan Shepherd’s car to make sure it qualified.

Cassill's #89 on pit road.
PHOTO: Stephen Pollard III, @nascarcatholic
All this shuffling put Long in last for the start, and by two laps in was 8.126 seconds back of the lead. After the third lap, Long worked his way past C.J. McLaughlin, who like Cassill was put in a locked-in car to make sure he qualified, RSS Racing’s #39 Sci Aps Chevrolet. McLaughlin only held the spot for one circuit before Cassill pulled down pit road after four laps. The crew looked under the hood and saw something was wrong with the throttle linkage, stating either the linkage had broken or a bolt had dropped off. The team spent several laps on pit road before his car was pushed to the garage area with assistance from Chase Briscoe’s crew.

As the Shepherd team continued to look over the #89, other drivers began to pull into the garage. Bayley Currey pulled Rick Ware Racing’s #17 Chevrolet into the garage and appeared in position to inherit last place when Cassill returned. That changed when he returned to action ten laps ahead of Cassill. Long had pulled his car in just moments after Currey, and was now 36th, nine laps down to the leader. Cassill’s spotter speculated Long pulled out because of engine issues they had earlier in the weekend. If both Cassill and Currey completed enough laps both would pass Long and drop him to last place.

Around Lap 19, Cassill’s crew said they would “leave it 100% up to” the driver whether he wanted to come back out. Cassill said he’d return and run a few laps. On the 26th circuit, Cassill returned to the track and completed his fifth lap. The team’s sights were set on Long’s teammate Joey Gase, whose #35 Donate Life / Pro Master Toyota was off the pace in Turns 3 and 4 after a left-front brake issue. Like Cassill, the crew was working on getting the 36th-place Gase back out there, but encouraged their driver to take it easy since the same car would be run next week in Iowa.

On Lap 27, Currey dropped Long to 37th with no indication the #13 would be returning to the track. This put Cassill in position to drop the #13 to last around the end of Stage 1. A caution then fell on Lap 33 when John Hunter Nemechek backed his #23 Chevy Accessories Chevrolet into the outside wall in Turns 1 and 2. Fighting a tight issue, Cassill managed to drop Long to last on Lap 39, but couldn’t quite catch Nemechek before “it broke again,” said the driver. Cassill thus settled in at 37th with Nemechek nine laps ahead of him in 36th. It was Nemechek's first Bottom Five of 2019.

Currey managed to pass Nemechek before he retired with a vibration, and Timmy Hill’s brake issues on the deep blue #66 MBM Motorsports Toyota rounded out the Bottom Five. Gase, who returned to the track around Lap 46, managed to climb from 36th to 31st at the finish.

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #13 in an XFINITY Series race at New Hampshire since May 9, 1998, when the late Ted Christopher in his Whelen Engineering Chevrolet was involved in a crash after 2 laps of the Gumout Long Life Formula 200. This same race marked the second and final career win for Roy “Buckshot” Jones.
*This marked the first time an XFINITY driver at New Hampshire finished last due to a rear gear issue. A rear gear hasn’t been the listed reason out since September 24, 2016, when Mike Bliss exited after 2 laps at Kentucky.

38) #13-Carl Long / 16 laps / rear gear
37) #89-Landon Cassill / 22 laps / carburetor
36) #23-John Hunter Nemechek / 31 laps / crash
35) #17-Bayley Currey / 51 laps / vibration
34) #66-Timmy Hill / 92 laps / brakes

1st) Motorsports Business Management (6)
2nd) RSS Racing (4)
3rd) DGM Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing (2)
4th) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, JD Motorsports, Kaulig Racing, Rick Ware Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (10)
2nd) Toyota (8)


Thursday, July 18, 2019

PREVIEW: Seuss and Theriault's first Cup starts with Rick Ware Racing among Loudon storylines

Austin Theriault's first Cup ride with Rick Ware Racing
Saturday, July 20, 2019
XFINITY Race 18 of 33
Roxor 200 at New Hampshire
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Jeff Green

There are 41 drivers entered for 38 spots, meaning three teams will fail to qualify for Saturday’s race in Loudon.

RETURNING: #12-Penske Racing
Paul Menard seeks his second XFINITY start of the season and first since his 4th-place showing in Michigan in June. He’ll drive the returning #12 team from the Penske stables, which last ran at Chicagoland during Joey Logano’s runner-up finish.

DRIVER CHANGE: #13-Motorsports Business Management
The preliminary entry list showed no driver listed for Carl Long’s #13 team in place of John Jackson, who ran 31st last week in Kentucky. Driving the car this week is Carl Long himself, eyeing his first series start of 2019.

DRIVER CHANGE: #15-JD Motorsports
Tyler Matthews returns for the first time since Iowa, where he ran a season-best 20th, and eyes his third XFINITY start of the year in Johnny Davis’ #15 Chevrolet. Matthews takes the place of Landon Cassill, who will focus on Sunday’s Cup race with StarCom Racing.

DRIVER CHANGE: #17-Rick Ware Racing
DRIVER CHANGE: #74-Mike Harmon Racing
As with MBM’s #13, there was no driver listed for Rick Ware’s #17 Chevrolet on the preliminary list, following Camden Murphy’s 33rd-place finish at Kentucky. Murphy then tweeted on Tuesday that he would be driving the #74 this Saturday, taking over for Mike Harmon, 27th in Kentucky. Driving the #17 this week is Bayley Currey, who ran Rick Ware's Cup car last Saturday. Currey seeks his 8th XFINITY start of the year and first since Michigan, when he drove Ware's car to a 33rd-place finish.

DRIVER CHANGE: #18-Joe Gibbs Racing
Harrison Burton will make his third XFINITY start of the season and first since a 4th-place showing in Iowa, again driving with DEX Imaging as sponsor of Joe Gibbs’ #18 Toyota. He takes the place of Riley Herbst, who turned in an 11th-place finish in Kentucky.

RETURNING: #21-Richard Childress Racing
RCR will bring back the #21 team for the first time since Daytona, where Joe Graf, Jr. finished 23rd under the lights. Driving this time is a returning Kaz Grala, who last ran at Dover with a 14th-place finish. Ice cream company HotScream returns as sponsor for Grala, who ran 14th in this race last year for start-up Fury Race Cars LLC.

As Jeff Green now recovers from his rotator cuff surgery earlier this week, cutting short his 2019 campaign behind the wheel, C.J. McLaughlin will seek his XFINITY Series debut. McLaughlin has made four ARCA Menards Series starts, most recently a season-best 10th at Michigan, and made his national series debut at Iowa’s Truck Series race, where he ran 23rd for Reaume Brothers Racing. To ensure McLaughlin qualifies, he has swapped rides with flagship driver Ryan Sieg, putting Sieg in the #93 and McLaughlin in the #39.

RETURNING: #68-Brandonbilt Motorsports
For just the second time this year, Brandonbilt Motorsports will field a second car, the same team which debuted with a 20th-place finish at Charlotte. Unlike at Charlotte, Brandon Brown will not run the second team, and is still the listed driver of his familiar #86. The preliminary entry list did not have a driver named for the #68, but it has since gone to Dillon Bassett, who previously joined his brother Ronnie Jr. driving for DGM Racing.

DRIVER CHANGE: #89-Shepherd Racing Ventures
Landon Cassill once again climbs aboard Morgan Shepherd's #89 to get it qualified into the race.

Swapped out of the ride in his most recent entries, Alex Labbe is again the listed driver of Mario Gosselin’s #90 Chevrolet, and again seeks his first series start since a 25th-place showing in Talladega. Labbe finished 23rd in this race last year, his lone XFINITY start here. He takes the place of Ronnie Bassett, Jr., 29th at Kentucky after a vibration caused by a tire failure.

DRIVER CHANGE: #99-B.J. McLeod Motorsports
Tommy Joe Martins returns to B.J. McLeod’s third team this week, taking the place of Jairo Avila, Jr., last the previous Friday in Kentucky. Martins and sponsor Diamond Gusset Jeans seek their ninth series start of the season, a year where his best finish was an 18th at Michigan. His best finish in two prior Loudon starts was a 20th in this race last summer.

CUP INVADERS: #12-Paul Menard

Sunday, July 21, 2019
CUP Race 20 of 36
Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Landon Cassill

There are just 37 drivers entered in Sunday’s main event – one more car than last week, but the fifteenth short field in twenty races this season. This ties last summer’s race for the fewest starters ever in a Cup race at Loudon.

RETURNING: #27-Premium Motorsports
Reed Sorenson and the second Premium Motorsports entry rejoin the Cup tour this Sunday as the lone “open” car in the field. We last saw this car in Daytona two weeks ago, where a litany of mechanical issues left Ross Chastain several laps off the pace. Sorenson has 17 Cup starts at Loudon on his resume with a best finish of 6th in 2008, driving for Chip Ganassi Racing.

DRIVER CHANGE: #51-Rick Ware Racing
Rick Ware Racing will give two drivers their first-ever chances to start a Cup Series race. Leading the contingent is Andy Seuss, who takes over for Bayley Currey in the flagship #51 Ford. Currey moves to Ware's XFINITY car (see above). The New Hampshire-born Seuss has been racing modifieds since 2006, and has amassed 22 wins. He also finished 13th in his lone K&N Pro Series East race here two years ago. Readers of this site may recall that name from his lone Truck Series start at Charlotte in 2016. Driving for Jim Rosenblum, Seuss started last and finished there after an early crash. Curiously, when qualifying was washed out that weekend, one of the trucks he bumped was driven by Austin Theirault, who is his teammate this Sunday (see below).

DRIVER CHANGE: #52-Rick Ware Racing
As announced on June 29, Austin Theriault will make his Cup Series debut this Sunday, taking over for B.J. McLeod in the second Rick Ware Racing entry. Theriault, sponsored by Bangor Savings Bank, is the 2017 ARCA Menards Series Champion and has a combined nineteen starts in the XFINITY and Truck Series. His best NASCAR finish at the Loudon track came in 2015, when he ran 8th in the Truck Series race for Brad Keselowski Racing.

Saturday, July 27, 2019
TRUCKS Race 14 of 23
Gander RV 150 at Pocono
2018 Last-Place Finisher: Bayley Currey

The Truck Series is off this week and rejoins the Cup Series next Saturday in Pocono.

Today in LASTCAR history (July 18, 1987): John Linville finished last at the South Boston Speedway when his #08 Reedy Racing Pontiac broke the rear end after 7 laps of the Coors 200. The finish, the eighth of Linville’s career, broke a tie with Jimmy Lawson for the most last-place finishes in XFINITY Series history. Linville would hold the record until September 19, 1992, when Ed Berrier scored the 11th last-place run of his own career at Dover.